X-ray polarimetry in astronomy has not been exploited well, despite its importance. The recent innovation of instruments is changing this situation. We focus on a complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) pixel detector with small pixel size and employ it as an x-ray photoelectron tracking polarimeter. The CMOS detector we employ is developed by GPixel Inc. and has a pixel size of 2.5 μm × 2.5 μm. Although it is designed for visible light, we succeed in detecting x-ray photons with an energy resolution of 176 eV (FWHM) at 5.9 keV at room temperature and the atmospheric condition. We measure the x-ray detection efficiency and polarimetry sensitivity by irradiating polarized monochromatic x-rays at BL20B2 in SPring-8, the synchrotron radiation facility in Japan. We obtain modulation factors of 7.63 % ± 0.07 % and 15.5 % ± 0.4 % at 12.4 and 24.8 keV, respectively. It demonstrates that this sensor can be used as an x-ray imaging spectrometer and polarimeter with the highest spatial resolution ever tested.
We have proposed a new type of X-ray interferometer called Multi Image X-ray Interferometer Module (MIXIM) consisting simply of a grating and an X-ray spectral imaging detector. The baseline concept of MIXIM is a slit camera to obtain the profile of X-ray sources, but aim to get a sub-arcsecond resolution. For that purpose, to avoid blurring of the image by diffraction is a key, and we select X-ray events of which energy satisfies the interferometric condition called Talbot effect. Stacking the images (X-ray interferometric fringes) with the period of the grating is another point of the method, which provides the self image of a grating slit convolved with the profile of the X-ray source. We started an experiment with a micro focus X-ray source, 4.8 μm pitch grating, and an SOI type X-ray detector XRPIX2b with a pixel size of 30 μm. The stacked self image was obtained with a magnification factor of 4.4. We, however, need finer positional resolution for the detector to obtain the self image to a parallel beam, for which the magnification factor must be 1. We thus focused on small pixel size CMOS sensors developed for visible light. We irradiated X-rays to one of such CMOS sensors GSENSE5130 with a pixel size of 4.25 μm, and found enough capability to detect X-rays, i.e., FWHM of 207 eV at 5.9 keV at room temperature. We then employed this sensor and performed an experiment at a 200 m beam line of BL20B2 in the synchrotron facility SPring8. Using a grating with a pitch of 4.8 µm and an opening fraction of f=0.5, we obtained the self image of the grating at the detector distance from the grating of 23 cm and 46 cm and the X-ray energy of 12.4 keV. We also performed an experiment using a 9.6 μm f = 0.2 grating with a detector-grating distance of 92 cm, and obtained higher contrast image of the grating. Note that the slit width of 2.4 μm at 46 cm corresponds to 1.1′′, while that of 1.9 μm at 92 cm does 0.43′′. We suggest several format of possible MIXIM missions, including MIXIM-S for very small satellite of 50cm size, MIXIM-P for parasite use of nominal X-ray observatory employing grazing X-ray telescopes with a focal length of 10 m, and MIXIM-Z in which the grating-detector distance of 100 m is acquired by formation flight or free fryers to yield 0.01” level resolution.